For Paulo Nagamura, there’s a certain consistency with Houston Dynamo FC's post-match press conferences, part of a cat-and-mouse game between the press and the first-year head coach.
Nagamura inevitably is asked about Sebastian Ferreira, the club-record signing from Club Libertad Asunción in Paraguay, and Nagamura’s response about the Paraguayan striker is usually the same.
“We have to be patient.”
“There is more to come.”
“He is evolving slowly.”
But on Sunday night, after Ferreira was directly involved in every goal of a 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park, Nagamura was more effusive in his praise of the Designated Player.
“Today, he played his best game of the year,” Nagamura said. “I think he was very effective, very strong, created a lot of combination play, had a great finish on his goal. So, that’s why we brought him here. I still believe there is room for improvement but I’m very, very pleased with his performance tonight.”
HIGHLIGHTS: LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo FC | May 22, 2022
Ferreira gave the visitors an early lead after the Dynamo’s high press caused a turnover. He picked up the scraps of a rebound after Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond spilled the ball in front and Ferreira scored his fifth goal for his new club.
He then turned provider, picking up assists on goals by Tyler Pasher and Thor Ulfarsson four minutes apart in the second half to put the Dynamo firmly in the driver’s seat.
It was what Nagamura called a “complete performance,” one needed after a 1-0 home loss to Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday.
“We were disappointed after that game at home against Seattle, where we felt that we were the better team, but we could not get the result,” Nagamura said. “I told the players, we talked early this week, that we are a good team but we need to be consistent with our approach. We have to be disciplined and they showed exactly that tonight. We were upset after the last game and today we had a kind of an extra layer of desire to make things up for the last game and I think the players were unbelievable today.”
After the win, the Dynamo are above the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line in the Western Conference with 18 points from their first 13 matches. There are signs of growth in Houston, enough that goalkeeper Steve Clark, who picked up his fourth clean sheet of the year, is ready to firmly put to bed talk of previous Dynamo teams.
“I'm tired of hearing about the Dynamo of the past. It's a new year, I'm tired of that,” said Clark, who signed with Houston after backstopping the Portland Timbers to hosting MLS Cup last year. "This is a culture that we're building. It's why I came here. It's why all the guys were bought in.
"I think that the coaching staff is driving us really hard and we're following that. We want to win and we're pushing every day. The whole organization is pushing, and the players are just the focal point and we're getting what's important, results for that. It's one step at a time and about a third of the way through the season."